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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: February ::
Re: Impossibility of Performance Criticism
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 71.  Tuesday, 9 February 1993.
 
From:           David Bank <
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Date:           Tuesday, 9 Feb 93 20:41:59 GMT
Subject: 4.0064 Re: The Impossibility of Performance Criticism
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0064 Re: The Impossibility of Performance Criticism
 
RE: Steve Urkowitz, John Drakakis and Friday nights. A few years ago,
a large group of English Department colleagues used to gather at an
insalubrious tavern in order to salute the departure of yet another
week of lectures, tutorials etc etc. A U.K. brewery had put out one of
those scratch-card games where the prize for getting all the questions
right was a free drink. The questions all related to moral situations
easily mapped on to Renaissance drama ("You are having an affair at
the office. Your wife is suspicious. Do you lie to her?"). The "right"
answers were those which tallied with the results of an attitudes
survey conducted in Britain among three different age groups, and the
questions each had three parts, one for each group. So one was being
asked to anticipate the responses of fellow-citizens (a) young, (b)
middle-aged, (c) old, to questions as above. Naturally, the quiz was
somewhat more sophisticated than I have so far managed to suggest;
for the results of the survey were *percentages* of each group
answering Yes, and what one had to do in the quiz was pick the right
percentage from a range offered offered on the card.
 
Now, part of the point of this little story is that we *weren't*
judging situations in Renaissance plays. Another part is that
*no individual* among us was able to get every question right in
all its parts. And (finally) we didn't do very well as a group
either, though the odd pint was won to roars of vindication.
 
Of course a quiz is neither a text or a performance in the usual
senses. What was upset was one's far too casual notions about
audiences, moral and other consensuses and convergences.
Does anyone in the current debate want to claim the story as
support? My own view is that Performance Criticism doesn't even
get near the starting blocks, but there are other grounds for
this which shouldn't lengthen this EM.
 
   David Bank
    University of Glasgow
 

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